Tech News on G4
Gatekeeper 2.0 Secure Wireless Lock & Key for your Computer
April 11, 2016
By Greg Gazin - Apple Gazin' - G4 Canada
Protecting your data from prying eyes is more important than ever before. Still, we often forget to lock our computers when we walk away or purposely don't bother because it's too much of a pain to retype in a password every time you move to and fro. For this, Untethered Labs created Gatekeeper, a key fob sized wireless "lock and key" for your computer that automatically locks your computer when you walk away from it and unlocks it when you return.
It's a pocket Bluetooth 4.0 enabled system that consists of a small rectangular coin-cell battery-operated key fob, a USB dongle and a companion app. The company's latest model, Gatekeeper 2.0, which we're reviewing here today, is updated and redesigned; At 45 mm x 25 mm x 6 mm and weighing 10 grams, it's lighter and 20% thinner and with better range detection. The new sleeker fob has a rubberized matte finish, so it won't slip from your hands with a built-in loop to secure it on a safety keychain attachment or lanyard - both included. The USB lock or dongle is half the size and now has a metal shield. The Android and iOS apps have been updated as well as the software for Windows and Mac although the Mac version is still in beta.
Easy Set-Up Encrypted Locking System
The "locking" system utilizes AES-128 ash AES-256 military grade encryption security so no one can hack in while it's under Gatekeeper's lockdown. If you prefer even more security you can also set up 2-factor authentication (Windows only) that will require you to also use a PIN.
Getting it up and running is quite slick and quite easy. From the host site you can download and install the appropriate Gatekeeper software version (32 or 64-bit for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 or Mac) from your computer.
Then, insert the USB lock into an available port and launch the Gatekeeper app. Each key, before it can be used, needs to be registered along with your credentials. Touching the key against the USB lock will enable pairing mode. Once paired, you can configure the key to either lock or unlock automatically or both. For added security you can also configure this to also require your PIN or Admin password to unlock.
To configure the distance when you walk away at which your computer will lock or unlock, you need set the fob's sensitivity using the slider in the app window. Strangely, rather than a specific distance in feet or metres, the slider has a "near" and "far" indicator so a bit of trial and error using the app's Test lock/unlock option is usually needed to get it right.
You'll have to remember to close the window before your test as the computer won't lock while it's open. And should the USB lock be removed, which can easily be done, the computer will automatically lock and stay locked until you manually unlock it.
For our testing we initially used a MacBook Pro but quickly discovered that version is in Beta and not as complete as the Windows version so we added Microsoft Surface Pro running 8.1.
On both platforms setup was easy. I discovered that the sensitivity was consistent on both platforms and like any wireless device; distance depended on the room or office.
I tried the lock/unlock a number of times and for the most part I had great success with the best results coming from the Windows side. On a few occasions, mostly on the Mac, the system wouldn't work and for some unknown reason I got a message to insert the lock when in fact it had been there all the time.
I did run into the odd issue with the computer going to sleep and when the screen went off. I'm sure that's why there's an option in the control panel for both Win/Mac to prevent sleep - although with just screen off, it shouldn't have been a problem. For Mac user's, the documentation highlights the recommendation that the Mac's sleep options are disabled.
Locate Mode via Gatekeeper App
As an added bonus, Gatekeeper can also be used as a Bluetooth locator using the Gatekeeper app for iOS 7+ or Android 4.3+. Simply "add" the key to your app by placing it near your mobile device. Once detected, you can enable Alert Mode, which causes the app to beep as you become separated from your fob. There's also rangefinder which tells you how close in proximity you are from your fob. This is a great way to keep you from losing your keys or to help find them in the morning.
These features worked well. The challenge was that on some occasions using an iPhone 5S, the key was not detected by the app.
Multi-User Enterprise Solution
In fact, the company does offer Gatekeeper for Enterprise solution that allows an administrator through a central admin console to manage all nuts on a network, configure multi-user mode in the case of shared workstations and keep track through event logs. It's ideal for retail businesses; call centres and places like hospitals where users are constantly getting up from their desks.
With Gatekeeper, you can walk away and your computer locks; return and you're back in business. It's a great concept when it works all the time. As no matter how careful we are, it's human nature to have those momentary lapses and forget to secure our computers just as we worry if we left the stove on or the garage door open.
The Windows version seems to be quite stable with the 2-Factor authentication a nice added touch for work environments. Some work needs to be done ensuring there's better connectivity should the computer go in to sleep mode. The Mac version - obviously in Beta does have potential.
Gateway 2.0 by Untethered Labs, LLC retails for US$59.99 with discounts available for multiple units. It’s available directly from the company’s site. It’s currently listed for $68.99 CAD at Amazon.ca.
About G4 in Canada
G4 launched on September 7, 2001 as the ultimate television resource for technology news, information and entertainment. Co-owned by G4, Rogers Media Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc., G4 is Canada's first television channel 100% dedicated to technology, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The channel features the latest technology news, information and entertainment in an exciting and high-energy format. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite.